Until recently, it was difficult to find a decent breakfast in Budapest because most locals eat breakfast at home. Thanks to the influx of tourists, however, several restaurants have opened where on-trend interior designs and chic waitstaffs go hand in hand with a well-prepared plate of eggs Benedict. Or avocado toast, in case you were wondering.
In New York or London, this hip breakfast restaurant would be just another fashionable crowd-pleaser: the type of place where tattooed and bow-tied servers scurry around a sleek interior complete with vintage light bulbs and greenery, and fresh R&B tunes set the musical background. In Budapest, many places have tried to emulate this concept, but STIKA, this pocket-sized restaurant in the old Jewish Quarter, is the first to get it right. .
Börze is a sleek downtown restaurant serving traditional Hungarian fare from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. With red banquettes and a chic interior designed to the minute detail, the vibes evoke a Keith McNally restaurant. Börze's moniker is a hat-tip to the enormous, 1907 building across the street that used to be the Budapest Stock and Commodity Exchange. The restaurant is a 2017 offshoot of Menza, and like its sister restaurant, Börze is a well-oiled machine with reliable dishes and a professional waitstaff.
À la Maison Grand is a chic, highly popular breakfast restaurant in Budapest's downtown, occupying the ground floor of a 1906 art nouveau building (take a glance at the striking glass mosaic perched atop the building). A fashionable, tourist-heavy crowd tends to flock to here for the breakfast-all-day and brunch offerings that include reliably-prepared croque madame (€5), eggs Florentine (€7), a range of waffles, and also zeitgesty items like acai bowl and avocado toast (€7). The only letdowns are the the undersized and forlorn-looking English (€10) and Hungarian breakfast plates (€12). .
Szimply is a teeny-tiny breakfast-all-day restaurant in the cobble-stoned courtyard of a pre-war downtown building. Partly thanks to a New York Times article that featured Szimply (Budapest is #50), it's next to impossible to find an open table at this closet-sized breakfast nook. .
Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné Bistro were ahead of the curve when in 2007 they opened this chic restaurant featuring a Balthazar-like interior straight out of the Keith McNally playbook. Back then, few places in Budapest offered this type of hip-but-classy ambiance. Déryné has managed to remain popular for all these years, even as similar restaurants have sprouted up in Pest with comparable offerings at lower prices..
For the past decade, Akácfa Street in Budapest's party district was mainly known for Fogas ruin bar. That has changed with the opening of the wildly popular Mazel Tov restaurant, and also Hops Beer Bar, one of the best craft beer bars in the city. And now here's Kaptafa, a hip breakfast-all-day restaurant. .
Törökméz is a cute restaurant perched on the verdant Rose Hill in Buda, meaning that you'll need to cross the Danube to get to it from the Pest side. Törökméz specializes in breakfast food with on-trend dishes inspired from around the world: there's everthing from tasty huevos rancheros (€7) to acai bowl (€7), avocado toast (€7), Cuban sandwich (€5), and English breakfast (€8). If you'd prefer something more indigenous to the region, go for the snappy frankfurters (€5), or the bundáskenyér (€3), which is similar to a savory French toast. They also serve local Hungarian wines.
If the iconic New York Café, located right across the street from here, offers a journey back in time, then Horizont Café shows off Budapest's contemporary self. This circle-shaped café and breakfast restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows used to be a movie theater's ticket office until 1999. Now, following a recent gut renovation, the handsome interior features mid-century modern and Art Deco furnishings complete with hanging globe lamps, vivid colors, and brass finishes. Central to the space is the coffee counter, where a couple of baristas ground, brew, and serve everything from filter coffees (€3) to espressos (€2) made with lightly roasted beans imported from places like Colombia, Ethiopia, and Burundi..
Opened almost 20 years ago, Két Szerecsen is a fixture in the Budapest restaurant scene. It's located between the stately Andrássy Avenue and the Jewish Quarter's main artery, Király Street, occupying a precious piece of no man’s land. The bright space is crammed with tables that receive plenty of natural light through the oversized windows..
Located on Bartók Béla Boulevard, Bartók is one of the few breakfast places on the Buda side of the Danube (yes, it's an unlikely contender for the "Most creative restaurant name" award). Step inside, and you will note a kaleidoscope of interior designs: There are exposed brick walls, Edison bulbs, subway tiles, rustic table tops, and steel I-beams. It's as if they included a sample of all the fashionable design trends of the past twenty years. .
Escape the noisy downtown street, and enter through the yellow ceramic tiles into the 19th century courtyard of Fekete, a hip café and all-day-breakfast restaurant. The marble well in the center of the tranquil courtyard is one of those Budapest surprises hiding behind many sooty facades. Weather permitting, enjoy your morning coffee in the open-air courtyard..
Gerlóczy is a cute café and restaurant tucked away in an unusually quiet pocket of Budapest's downtown. The tiny plaza outside Gerlóczy is surrounded by elegant pre-war buildings and conjures images of a Paris backstreet. Perhaps this is why the interior, sporting a high ceiling, small round tables, and leather banquettes, feels like a French bistro. Gerlóczy's outdoor terrace is especially enjoyable in the warm months (whenever the local municipality isn't using this precious space for construction equipment storage).
Csendes Társ is a cute, outdoor-only café by Károlyi-kert, a spotless park in Budapest known for its colorful flower beds and manicured lawns. The place feels like an island of peace within the hustle and bustle of downtown. I enjoy coming here for a late breakfast (they open at 10 a.m.), or for drinks in the evening when the neighborhood has quieted down, and colorful lanterns provide atmospheric lighting..
Sarki Fűszeres is a tiny café and specialty store in Újlipótváros, a middle-class neighborhood in Budapest with an adorable character. Sarki Fűszeres is best for breakfast during the warm-weather months on its outdoor terrace under a canopy of greens. The breakfast offerings include expertly-prepared ham & eggs (€5), frankfurters (€5), and meat and cheese platters (€5). Inside, they sell high-end charcuterie, cheese, and olives, among other specialty food products.
In the late aughts, Fruccola was one of the first restaurants to pioneer fast casual dining in Budapest, especially the healthy segment specializing in salads and fruit juices. They have since become a recognized brand and a mini-chain with three locations across the city. Besides salads, smoothies, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, Fruccola also serves excellent breakfast omelettes, both with salmon and spinach & goat cheese (€5). On weekdays, they offer a seasonal, two-course lunch prix fixe (€6) that's heavy on vegetables, though not strictly vegetarian.
Although Budapest Baristas is primarily a specialty café, it’s their breakfast-all-day offerings that can make a visit worthwhile. Bagels rarely appear on Budapest breakfast menus, so I automatically order them when they do. After all, who doesn’t like to bite into a still-warm bagel with a dense and chewy dough? The default is a sesame bagel, and toppings include the classic cream cheese, and also lox, the signature Jewish-American variety with smoked salmon..
For the longest time, Budapest had only a few breakfast restaurants, even though we know what a difference a plate of creamy scrambled eggs can make to start the day off on the right foot. Part of this gaping void was filled in 2014 with the opening of Zoska, a breakfast-all-day, counter-service restaurant. It's nestled in a quite, downtown backstreet, featuring gleaming white walls, and a shabby-chic decor..